Tina's Diary ~ Before coming to the Sanctuary

August 7, 2003

Today was a very special day for Tina. There was a steady stream of friends who stopped by the zoo to say goodbye and wish her well. Many wore their new Tina T-shirts which they bought at her going away party last month. There were well wishers young and old. Even the family that hosted her summer vacation a few years came to say goodbye. It was a most tender display of affection bestowed upon a wonderful elephant who has touched the lives of so many.

Tina chirped and squeaked and gobbled down treats brought by her well wishers. Her steady stream of admirers all voiced a gratitude that Tina was moving to the Sanctuary. It was a very touching day, one that Tina and her friends will never forget.

The custom-designed trailer arrived, and Tina was interested in all the preparations.

Tina's custom trailer arrives.

Tina's trailer arrives

After her morning bath, Tina leaves the barn to greet her fans.

Setting up the trailer while Tina watches


While crowds of well wished looked on, Tina's crew prepared her trailer for loading and departure. Tina watched curiously from a few feet away. Painstaking care was taken to set the trailer just right. A pile of dirt was formed into a ramp up to the back of the trailer so that Tina can easily walk up into the back of the trailer.

Tina with Pat Hines

Pat Hines, who brought Tina to the Greater Vancouver Zoo in 1971, was among those who gathered at the zoo for a send-off party for the 33-year-old elephant. Tina quickly recognized Hines and began "singing" to him.

Tina's loyal zoo crew poses with Tina for one last time

The zoo staff poses, one last time, with their dear friend Tina.


Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Tina's TB test results came back today. As expected, they are negative. This means that Tina has met all of the import requirements and can enter the United States!

Tuesday night, August 5, 2003 — late

Tina's trailer made a pit stop at Thermo King of Sioux City, South Dakota. The air conditioner that we purchased expressly for Tina's trip to the sanctuary was not operating properly. Driver Mike Knowles reported that the night service manager at Thermo King was fantastic. Without hesitation he got his crew on the problem. Mike could not compliment Thermo King staff enough. After the slight delay, the trailer is back on the road again and scheduled to arrive in Aldergorve Thurs, early afternoon.

August 5, 2003

Marcella Smith, a Sanctuary supporter living in Overland, KS offered to be the official staff driver for Tina's move. Marcella is not only providing a vehicle for the trip, she is also paying for the fuel and her food and lodging. Marcella had just arrived in Canada when she left a voice mail message on the Sanctuary office phone.

As required when you enter a foreign country, Marcella was asked to declare the purpose of her visit. When the border personnel learned that she was involved in moving Tina to the States, she received a very warm welcome. Everyone wanted to talk about Tina and how wonderful it was that she was moving to the Sanctuary. It seemed that everyone was talking about Tina the elephant. By association, Marcella was an instant celebrity and dubbed a member of the "Tina Crew".

July 26, 2003 — Tina's Goodbye Party at The Greater Vancouver Zoo

June 18, 2003

Bob Bridges, one of Tina's keepers, visited the Sanctuary today. After watching the elephants make their way into the habitat in the morning, he was given the grand tour of the facilities. Bob could not quit smiling and he appeared to be quite pleased with Tina's new home. When asked what he thought, he praised the Sanctuary and stated that Tina is going to love her new home. It was a pleasure having Bob visit and approve so enthusiastically.

Bob Bridges from the Vancouver Zoo visits the Sanctuary

Scott and Bob Bridges

Scott Blais, Lanette Williams, Bob Bridges, & Joanna Burke

Scott Blais, Lanette Williams, Bob Bridges, & Joanna Burke

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Fri., June 13, 2003


HOHENWALD, Tenn. (June 12, 2003) – Just when everyone was sure Tina would be moved to the Sanctuary without a hitch, an unexpected situation has developed.

Everything was coming together smoothly. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared Tina could be moved immediately. Upon receiving confirmation from both USFWS & USDA, Canadian CITES announced Tina’s export permit could be issued the next day.

The USFWS, the agency that regulates the importation of endangered species, assured Canadian CITES that no USFWS permit was required to import Tina into the United States. The reason for her exception is that Tina was born in 1970, a few years before the Asian elephant was declared an endangered species. As result of her birth date, Tina is exempt from some laws intended to protect her species; she and others her age and older are "grand-fathered" in and not effected by all of the USFWS regulations governing Asian elephants born after 1973.

The USDA monitors elephant importation with regard to health and welfare. They require all elephants living in or moving to the US to be tested annually for tuberculosis. For the past several years the human strain of tuberculosis has plagued many herds of performing elephants including Hawthorn Corporation, the largest elephant leasing company in the US, and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, the largest traveling circus in the US. The TB test consists of collecting sputum through a procedure called a trunk wash. The sputum is then cultured which requires sixty days to be conclusive.

Tina’s trunk wash samples arrived at the USDA lab for processing Wednesday, June 11. The results will be available August 6th.

In the past, the USDA had accepted results of an additional test called an MTD when used in conjunction with the culture test. The MTD test utilizes the same trunk wash sample but unlike the culture test, which takes sixty days to produce results, the MTD produces results in forty-eight hours.

The USDA recently changed their policy regarding MTD testing and does not accept it as an official TB test. This policy change is the reason Tina’s move has been delayed.

Although Tina’s TB culture test results will not be available for another sixty days, the USDA has stated they could allow Tina to move to the Sanctuary at any time. There would be one restriction; although Tina would be allowed to move to the Sanctuary immediately, she would not be allowed to have any physical contact with the Sanctuary elephants until the culture test results are conclusive.

That means Tina would be allowed NO PHYSICAL INTERACTION with any of the Sanctuary elephants for up to sixty days. Even though she would be kept isolated from her new family, Tina would be able to smell, see and hear the other elephants. In our experience, such deprivation borders on cruelty. Although these conditions would not be life threatening, it is no way to begin a relationship and develop trust between keepers and/or elephants. Tina’s forced isolation from the other elephants would definitely be most stressful for her as well as the other elephants. For elephants, being allowed to see, smell and hear but deprived of touch is not a healthy situation.

After consulting with the staff at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, it was mutually agreed that it is in Tina’s best interest to remain at the zoo, in familiar surroundings, with staff that she knows, until such time as she can be allowed to interact freely with her new elephant family at the Sanctuary. This has been a very difficult and painful decision. Everyone, Sanctuary staff, zoo staff and all of Tina’s friends, desperately want her to move to the Sanctuary as soon as possible. But after careful consideration, we realized that the best thing for Tina is to stay at the zoo a few extra weeks until she can be with her new elephant family in a healthy way.

Tina’s new target move date is set for August 7. Considering the temperature at this time of year the Sanctuary is going to the expense of installing an air conditioning unit in Tina’s trailer so that she will remain cool and comfortable during her trip to the Elephant Sanctuary.

The Elephant Sanctuary, located in Hohenwald, Tenn. is the nation’s first natural-habitat refuge developed to meet the needs of endangered Asian elephants. The Sanctuary is a non-profit organization, licensed by the US Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The Sanctuary currently gives refuge to six elephants, with plans to rescue more in the future. For more information about how you can become a member of the Sanctuary or make donations, call (931) 796-6500 or visit the web site at www.elephants.com.

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Thurs. June 12, 2003

The Canadian Wildlife Service issued Tina's CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) export permit today. One more hurdle —the tuberculosis test results — and Tina will be on her way.

Sat., June 7, 2003

The Sanctuary has set June 23rd as the tentative date for Tina’s move day.

Wed., June 4, 2003

The zoo sent in the export permit application. They were told that the permit could be issued in a matter of days.

Fri., May 30, 2003

Zoo staff was expecting Carol as she arrived at the GVZ. The media was there in force. Tina was indeed a celebrity. The zoo staff was quite kind and treated Carol professionally. They took her directly to Tina’s barn…there she was, in all her glory, calm and content flanked by all of her people. Carol remembers thinking "WOW is she ever loved and she knows it".

a very special Tina
The vet was standing next to Tina equally enamored with Tina. As the staff discussed how they would secure a sample from the inside of Tina’s trunk, she stood calmly, unchained gently running her trunk up and down each person’s clothes, as if saying good morning to her human family. She appeared to be fully engaged in their conversation as well.

Carol was invited to approach Tina. As a personal policy Carol does not approach or interact with elephants until they arrive at the Sanctuary. It is a matter of respect but Tina has a different plan. Not wanting Tina to feel rejected Carol approached and introduced myself. Carol recalls, "We shared a special moment. Tina looked directly into my eyes, straight to my heart. Her softness is definitely soul deep. I was hooked like every other person in the room and Tina was basking in the love that surrounded her."

tina prepares for a trunk wash


The staff prepared to take a trunk wash from Tina. This standard, painless procedure is required in order to move an elephant to the US. Although this was Tina’s first experience with the procedure she remained calm and cooperated fully.

The sample was collected within seconds. Her keepers congratulated her for her success causing her to erupt into song. She was so proud of herself, she squeaked for what seemed like minutes. Everyone laughed and complimented her further which in turn made her sing more.



Sylvia, one of her keepers dangled a bunch of grapes in front of Tina saying, do you want your grapes. With a twinkle in her eyes, Tina cocked her head to the side, flapped her ears forward and burst into joyful song again.


Bobbing for treats

Tina was released into her yard. Although she was in no hurry her keepers commented that she was moving faster today. She stood close by as Dr. Burton talked about her health and temperament.

When she tired of our conversation she wandered over to the water trough, which was covered with an assortment of produce bobbing on top. She plucked the tasty treats from the water and popped them into her mouth, one by one.

For the next half hour Carol met with staff and management. The agreement was made— Tina was coming to the Sanctuary. Everyone appeared to be quite comfortable with this latest decision and knew the public and media would be too.

The zoo wanted to announce their decision right then. The media was poised, ready. When the announcement was made everyone broke out into huge grins. Tina was moving to the Sanctuary and everyone was aware of what great news that was. The zoo staff toured Carol through the zoo before she headed back to Vancouver for the press conference. This time the media was greeted by a united front of animal welfare, sanctuary and zoo people all sitting at the same table, on the same page, at least for that moment in time. It was a wonderful feeling, a success for all concerned in the name of a solitary elephant.

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Thurs., May 29, 2003

The media continued to call and e-mail wanting to know of any new developments. Carol was not at liberty to discuss the details of her conversations with zoo management but did share the news that the US Fish and Wildlife did not require an import permit for Tina. This was due to the fact that Tina was born before the endangered species law applied to Asian elephants. Due to her age, Tina was exempt from the law.

The other good news was that results from Tina’s TB test would be available within 48 hours. This was a tremendous break but it was still obvious that Jamie believed that the permit process would be a problem.

Now the only remaining hurdle was the Canada export permit which the zoo was told would take six weeks or less. By the time Carol boarded the plane to Vancouver, she was convinced Tina would be moving to the Sanctuary.

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Wed., May 28, 2003

The Sanctuary phones began ringing at 8am and did not stop until 11:30 that night. It was a challenge to juggle the volume of calls and e-mails coming in. The public had bombarded the zoo and media with their concern for Tina’s welfare and distain for the zoo’s decision. Many people contacted the Sanctuary demanding something be done to help Tina. It appeared the zoo began to feel the public pressure as well.

Shortly before noon Jamie Dorgan, animal care manager for the GVZ contacted Sanctuary director, Carol Buckley. He began by asking basic questions about the Sanctuary, how elephants are transported and what the cost would be. As the day wore on Carol and Jamie spoke numerous times.

Sometime early afternoon the Sanctuary received an invitation from the animal welfare community to attend a press conference in Vancouver to discuss Tina’s plight. Carol agreed to attend. Jamie was informed of the press conference and Carol’s plan to attend. Jamie extended an invitation for Carol to visit the zoo and meet Tina. By late evening it appeared that Tina’s future were taking yet another turn, this time in a better direction, but it was also obvious that Jamie did not trust Carol’s claim that the US permit would take no more than six weeks.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

The zoo said they would announce their decision of where they would send Tina at 2 pm. The rumor was that they planned to send her to an elephant facility in Arkansas. This was devastating news on many levels especially because The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee had offer Tina a home for free. Many people questioned why GVZ would make such a decision. Their decision for sending Tina away was because of her infected feet. Since the zoo openly acknowledged their inability to provide an environment that would allow Tina’s feet to heal, their decision to send her to the Arkansas facility made no sense. The zoo was aware that Tina’s foot problems stemmed from living on an unnaturally hard surface and confinement in a restricted space. What she needed was room to roam, roam to walk so that her feet could heal. The animal welfare groups who were most interested in Tina’s relocation were shocked that this sudo-sanctuary would even be considered. They faxed and e-mailed damaging information about the Arkansas facility director’s training techniques. He was known to use electric prods to train elephants. Dominance, force and chains are tools of his trade. The Blackpool Zoo in England had hired Scott Riddle as a consultant for their elephant staff and later banned him from the zoo due to his training techniques. http://www.captiveanimals.org/elephants/eppupdate3.htm

The thought of Tina going to Riddle’s concerned many as she would be confined to a small yard, be chained in her barn at night and used to entertain the many curious elephant lovers who paid to interact with the resident elephants. Although Riddle’s website boasts 320 acres of wilderness, the elephants do not have free access to the property and instead are confined in a small pen during the day and chained in their barn at night. Everyone was caught off guard when at 2PM the zoo announced their intent to send Tina, not to Riddle’s elephant breeding farm, but to the Bowmanville Zoo.

Until this point the GVZ had never contacted the Elephant Sanctuary, although they told the media that the Sanctuary was a candidate for Tina’s new home. When the media asked zoo officials about their decision to send Tina to a zoo they cited, travel distance and permit time as the reason they chose the Bowmanville Zoo over The Sanctuary.

Not only were animal welfare groups alarmed at the announcement but the public was not pleased as well. There was a serious public outcry, which resulted in some very negative press for the zoo. The zoo’s phone system was not working, leaving the public livid at not being able to voice their concern over the zoos decision. The media shared the public’s frustration at not being able to reach zoo officials for comment. The Sanctuary’s phones started ringing off the hook and the e-mails were coming in furiously.

The Sanctuary voiced a concern over the zoo choice. It was common knowledge that the Bowmanville Zoo could not provide the environment Tina required. In addition, it was a matter of public knowledge that the zoo director had been investigated for animal cruelty after zookeepers claimed they witnessed him beating an elephant. Once again the animal welfare groups in the area provided documentation and voiced their concern. Even some former zoo employees contacted the media in an effort to prevent Tina from falling into what they felt was an abusive situation. Everyone hoped that the zoo would be made aware of the truth and change their mind. Instead they stood by their decision, defending their choice, stating that the US permit process would take a year and that the trip would be too stressful for Tina. The Sanctuary failed in attempts to contact the zoo to inform them that the US import permit would take no more than six weeks and that the trip to Bowmanville was actually longer than the trip to Tennessee.

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